NEWS RELEASE

CHARLES SMITH
Executive Commissioner

Date: June 17, 2016
Contact: Bryan Black, 512-424-6951


HHSC Submits 2017 State Plan to Ensure
Refugees are Fully Vetted

AUSTIN – Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Charles Smith sent a letter today to the U.S. Department of State concerning refugee resettlement in Texas.

The letter informs the federal government that Texas will not agree to increase the number of refugees coming into the state, and the 2017 State Plan for the Refugee Program has been written to ensure Texas only accepts refugees who are fully vetted and do not present a security threat. 

"Texas continues to have concerns about the safety of its citizens and the integrity of the overseas security and background vetting process of the federal resettlement program," Commissioner Smith wrote in the letter. "Americans face an undeniable terrorist threat that is imported through new manipulations of our national security protocols each day."

The 2017 State Plan was developed to reflect that Texas will only accept refugees who the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and director of National Intelligence can certify to Congress do not pose a security threat to the state. Just yesterday, the CIA director testified before Congress that terrorists are attempting to move their operatives into the U.S. using many tactics, including through refugee resettlement.

Additionally, in response to a proposal from the U.S. Department of State to have Texas increase the number of refugees coming into the state next year by 25 percent, Commissioner Smith notified the federal government Texas objects to the proposal and would only accept the same amount of refugees who are placed in Texas during 2016. Any increase, Commissioner Smith wrote, would pose a heavy financial burden on communities in Texas.

The new state plan will take effect at the beginning of the 2017 federal fiscal year, which starts on Oct. 1, 2016. The Commissioner's letter also informed the State Department that Kara Crawford has been named the new State Refugee Coordinator for Texas.

Read the full letter (PDF)

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